Chicago — From the moment they identified him as the quarterback to lift their struggling franchise, the Chicago Bears envisioned big games from Mitchell Trubisky.
As breakthroughs go, this was a huge one.
Trubisky threw a career-high six touchdown passes — one shy of the NFL record — and the NFC North-leading Bears pounded the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 48-10, on Sunday.
The Bears (3-1) won their third straight with Trubisky delivering the sort of performance general manager Ryan Pace envisioned when he traded up a spot to draft the prized quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick last year.
He finished one TD pass short of the franchise mark set by Sid Luckman against the New York Giants in 1943. Luckman is tied with seven others in NFL history to throw seven TD passes in a game. The Bears also racked up 483 yards in this one, nearly matching their record of 488 in that same game, on the way to their highest point total since 51-20 victory over Tennessee in 2012.
“It’s very humbling because you know the history of the Bears and how many great players have come through this organization,” Trubisky said. “For me, you’re just trying to create your own legacy and try to make a path.”
The defense did its part, harassing Ryan Fitzpatrick before Jameis Winston took over to start the second half. And the Bears (3-1) matched their longest win streak since a 3-0 start in 2013.
Trubisky had never thrown for more than two touchdowns in a game. But he tossed five in the first half alone as Chicago grabbed a 38-3 lead. The only other player with more in a single half since 1991 was Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers with six in the first two quarters against the Bears in a romp at Lambeau Field in November 2014.
Trubisky had no trouble finding wide-open receivers against a struggling secondary, completing 19 of 26 passes for 354 yards.
“Hopefully, this is a day where we look back down the road here,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said, “and say, ‘Remember that day where he had that great game?’ And it helped catapult him into being a great quarterback.”
Khalil Mack had a strip-sack in the first half against Fitzpatrick. That made him the first player with a sack and forced fumble in four straight games since Robert Mathis for Indianapolis in 2005. He also appeared to tip the ball as Winston released a pass that Danny Trevathan picked off on the first drive of the second half.